Proposed abortion rights amendment clears Ohio Ballot Board

The Ohio Ballot Board on Monday approved a citizen petition to legalize abortion in the state, moving the constitutional amendment closer to appearing on a statewide ballot.

The board, which met for less than 10 minutes, had to determine if the proposal contains only the proposed amendment to the state constitution. The board voted unanimously the “Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety” contained just one amendment.

“I know there are deeply held beliefs and strong feelings on both sides of this issue and I anticipate that within the state of Ohio that debate will continue in the public,” Secretary of State Frank LaRose said. “It is not our purpose to have debate on the merits of this issue this morning.”

A member of the Cincinnati Right to Life organization testified he felt the initiative was misleading, and board member Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, called the proposal horrifying before voting it contained only one amendment.

“I would like to note for the record I am prolife. I am horrified at the thought of this amendment and the right to kill babies being put into Ohio’s constitution,” Gavarone said. “Although I am very much opposed to this substance of the issue before us is procedure only.”

Earlier this month, Attorney General Dave Yost approved language submitted for the ballot question is a fair and truthful summary of the proposed statute.

Now, the petitioners must collect signatures from registered voters equal to at least 10% of the vote cast in the most recent gubernatorial election. Those signatures must come from voters in at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties and, for each of those counties, the number must equal to at least 5% of the vote cast in the most recent gubernatorial election.

If the signatures are verified by LaRose at least 65 days before the election, the question will be on the ballot in the regular or general election that happens within 125 days after filing the petition.

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